Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

November 14, 1877. Omaha Daily Herald 13(27): 1. From Chicago Field.

Snipe Shooting in Nebraska.

John, Zac and "Rob" in a Days Hunt Near This City.

An Omaha Lawyer's Graphic Description of the Day's Work on the Papio.

The following letter, dated Omaha, October 27, appears in the last number of The Chicago Field. A portion concerning the fall hunt of the Sportsmen's Club, containing facts which have already appeared in The Herald, is omitted:

Since the enactment of the "Granger's Law," prohibiting the killing of all wild birds in the State "except water-fowls, jack snipes, sand-pipers, waders and woodcocks," our guns have been allowed to rust and our setters and pointers to run wild, or to become fat and lazy house dogs. Wild turkeys, grouse and quails besport in perfect safety, except from the old fusil of the gentle granger, and the voracious hawks, which latter are likewise protected by this foolish, injudicious law, advocated and called into existence through ignorance and sustained by abject fanaticism.

To the credit, be it said of the great majority of our sportsmen they have yielded obediences to this obnoxious and foolish law. The State Sportsmen's Association has wielded a salutary influence in this behalf. Some who claim the title of sportsmen undoubtedly have cladestinely violated the law, but all such are sportsmen only in name, and deserve to be branded with the mark of a culprit, and cast out of the sportsmen's synagogue with scourging, etc.

As a sample of Nebraska snipe shooting now-a-days, I will give an account of one day's experience with two other members of our club, familiarly known here as John and "Zac." John is something of a "bore," in his way, and the best shot in the State, and has been turning out some of the best "choke bores" in this country. Zac is a junior member of our club, is its accomplished secretary and city clerk. Yet he is no tyro with the gun when the swift-winged snipe gives him a fair rise. For zeal and perseverance in the manly sport he possesses the true ring, which when tempered with a little reasoning of field etiquette he will rank A. 1, in the brotherhood. Indeed he is a "jolly good fellow" now. But to the hunt. On the 27th inst., the aforesaid trio bowled out of this city between 7 and 8 o'clock a.m., behind a span of sprightly ponies destined for the Papillon (the French for butterfly) locally pronounced Papio - a small stream and beautiful valley by that name, six to eight miles distant. Arriving at a favorable place for the coveted Scollopax Wilsonii a halt was ordered, and we soon were beating the marsh, but with poor success - not a shot was fired. Approaching the wagon a fine cock snipe rose some 20 steps in front of Zac's gun and he brought him down in fine style. Picking him up and stroking the feathers down he brought him tenderly to the wagon with a triumphant air experienced only by sportsmen and which must be seen to be fully appreciated. From this on he showed blood in the eye. He meant business.

A mile or more further on we came to another favorable spot and this time without disappointment. Here was fifteen to twenty acres of cleanly mown bottom land with sufficient water standing upon it to make is susceptible to the sensitive bill of Scollopax. We were soon deployed in skirmish line - Zac on the right, John in the centre, and I on the left. We proceed in good order a few yards when bang! bang! bang! and away went four or five snipes. While John had one bird down another came zigzagging across the left about 10 yards off and I turned a volley loose upon him, but to no avail. John being unable to find his bird my dog was called into requisition. A few moments elapsed in looking for this bird, when a double shot by Zac, admonished us that we were wasting valuable time for one dead bird. There was Zac a hundred yards or more away, bang! bang! bang! now to the right, now to the left, now in front, now to the rear. Snipes were getting up and "scaping" all around him in pairs, in half dozens and in dozens, and he was putting in shots heavy and fast. Bogardus in his thousand-ball exhibitions as to rapidity in firing is nowhere; nothing short of a Gattling gun could begin to match it. Considering it safest where we were, John and I remained some 150 yards away watching the skirmish and getting an occasional shot at a passing snipe. Zac had the fun all the same. Just how many shots he made it was impossible to tell, or just the number of times and celerity with which he turned and moved about, with the pockets of his hunting coat heavily laden with cartridges, may be partially imagined from the fact that when he arrived at the wagon his coat was entirely minus its skirts, not a vestige remaining below the waistband. John mildly suggested that it was wholly unnecessary to hunt snipes with quite so much zeal and energy, and perhaps more successful; but Zac insisted that it paid, and proved it by showing nine birds to our three or four each, and we felt compelled to give it up, notwithstanding he and his dog had driven out at least 75 to one hundred birds in the space of ten to fifteen minutes. It having become quiet again, and the birds driven out failing to return, not much to our disappointment, however, we moved on again, picking up a single bird here and there until noon. Counting up our success Zac showed sixteen, John eight, and I ten fine, fat birds. We lunched on the road during a three miles ride to the next snipe ground. Here we put in about one hour's pleasant hunting, and returning to the wagon added thirty more birds to our score as follows: John and Zac eight each, and I fourteen. After a little respite we took another turn over the same ground, and finished the day's hunt, adding sixty-eight more birds to our former scores, making a total of 132 in all. The birds were wild, not lying to the dog at all, and seldom rising within thirty yards of the gun.

"Robert White."